LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival Recap: Days 3 and 4 + Awards

After well over 100 comedy short films have graced the screen of the Downtown Independent Theater, complete with plenty of laughter and applause, The 4th Annual LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival has come to a close. The blocks of films from days 3 and 4 along with the fascinating panels  of comedy stars and comedy new media (Funny or Die, College Humor, and more) rounded out the second half of the festival just as well as the first half. On top of that, the festival had a legitimate awards ceremony hosted by Alonzo Bodden worthy of much bigger film festivals such as Tribeca, as presenter David Higgins (The Wrong Guy) initially “thought” it was when presenting an award.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened for days 3 and 4 and the awards presentation:

-The “short” short (under 5 min.) still proved to be the crowd favorites as well as some of the films we enjoyed the most.  Christopher Larsen’s Jesus Doppelganger (a man has to decide which Jesus to shoot) and Jeremy Brull’s Honourable Discharge (a infantry man’s fiance gets the worst news she could get) played their one joke brilliantly to uproarious laughter.

-Many of the shorts nailed the note of sheer absurdity. Award winner Speruchet Pan Tournegos by Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, and Scott Yacyshyn, a sort-of absurd revenge action pho-drama, was intentionally done in a completely made-up language (we apologize in advance if it was an obscure Eastern European dialect that was being spoken). Frequent character in Christopher Guest films John Michael Higgins played an absolutely ridiculous cross-dressing therapist in Dave Rock’s very funny People People. Matt Smulker’s Hiccup also deserves a mention here for leading the audience down that path of a road movie that stops abruptly at the out-of-nowhere twist, which we’re not going to give away (just trust us, it was damn funny).

-There was a celebrity panel on Saturday morning of Carlos Alazraqui, EG Daily, Niecy Nash, John Michael Higgins, and Yeardley Smith, which was especially fascinating considering John Michael Higgins revealed that he wasn’t a big fan of doing improv and Yeardley Smith has been acting right out of high school all the way to her current job on The Simpsons.

-At the new media panel, featuring Funny or Die, College Humor, Fremantle Media, and Break Media, it was absolutely startling and engrossing to hear that they all collectively fear agents and unions more so than CISPA or SOPA.

Other memorable quotes from the New Media Panel:
“We hope to contribute something to it and the story to hopefully make it not so much about dick jokes, when it’s really about boob jokes.” –Matt Johnson, Fremantle Media, Atomic Wedgie TV
“I know how to make a viral video: fake celebrity sex videos.” –Ally Hord, Funny or Die
“We’re hoping the over-40 demographic will die real soon. It’s a big part of our business plan.” –Spencer Griffin, College Humor

-We heard Funny or Die on HBO is in season 3 of production and the second season of Billy on the Street on FUSE is on its way.

-Something you probably won’t get to see at many other film festivals that was great to see at LA Comedy Shorts was webisodes. David Morgasen’s David Blaine’s Street Magic (spoof of Blaine’s street magic), Hayden Black’s Goodnite Burbank (an attempt at local news in Burbank out of a garage), and Jon Stahl’s Teechers (The Office meets an elementary school) [which should be a web series] gave a great look into the possibilities reality of episodic comedy on the web.

-Dark comedy had an interesting showing during the festival. Both Bob Ray’s Sacked and Darrell C. Hazelrig’s The Dark Companion really walked the line quite cleverly of not being a gritty drama by having puppets be the subject to psychological afflictions or gruesome murder and revenge. James Logan’s Terminator: Termination also pulled the humor off quite well by its spoof of Terminator featuring a toy robot.

Thugs the Musical Trailer

The Winners of the 2012 LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival Awards
Commie Award (Honorary Award in Comedic Excellence)-Scott Thompson
Best Comedy Short Script-Mary & Louise-Amy Staats
Best Half-Hour Pilot-Rooster & Sons-Drew Mackintosh
Best Comedy Feature Script-White’s Trash-Gregory Porter
Best Animated Comedy Short-Stuper Powers-Rise of the Chipmunk-Greg Bro
Best Comedy Student Film-Mr. Bear-Andres Rosende
Best Comedy Short Shortie (5 min. and under)-Comedy Jam-Bryan Robbins
Best Comedy Short-Speruchet Pan Tournegos by Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, and Scott Yacyshyn
Audience Award-Thugs the Musical-Kevin Avery
State Tax Credit Exchange’s Best of Fest-The Immigrant-Josh Levy